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technical director

For more information, please contact Oscar Franzese, Technical Director, at or (865) 946-1304.

Current reseach projects



WRI-FOT roadmapIn Fall of 2012, FMCSA kicked offed the WRI-FOT Program to validate technologies and methodologies that can improve safety through inspections using wireless technologies that convey real-time identification of commercial motor vehicles (CMV), drivers, and carriers, as well as information about the status of the vehicles and their drivers. It is believed that these inspections will (1) increase CMV safety, (2) increase inspection efficiency, (3) improve inspection effectiveness by reducing the probability of drivers bypassing CMV inspection stations and increase the likelihood that fleets will attempt to meet the safety regulations, and (4) benefit the CMV industry by reducing fleet costs thereby providing a good return-on-investment. To this end, the WRI program is defined in three parts:

  • Phase 1: Proof of Concept Test (POC) – Testing of commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) or near-COTS technology to validate the wireless inspection concept (2006-2008, testing completed August 2007)
  • Phase 2: Pilot Test – Safety and inspection technology maturation demonstration, system loading, and back office system integration (2008-2011)
  • Phase 3: Field Operational Test (FOT) – Full end-to-end system testing on multiple vehicles from multiple fleets within a multi-state Consortium (2012-2017)

The goals of the WRI FOT are to support the WRI Program by determining the viability and effectiveness of wireless CMV inspection using currently-existing telematics technologies and a custom-developed government system to receive and process the safety data messages at an instantaneous rate equal to a nationally deployed system, and provide a nexus for future national deployment via Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks (CVISN) or other program.

The WRI-FOT goals will be met by the following objectives:

  • Demonstrate WRI via one or more CMRS Partner systems
  • Demonstrate the transfer of a CMRS-generated Safety Data Message (SDM) to the government system (GS)
  • Demonstrate the transfer of the CMRS-generated SDM from the GS to the State centralized and roadside-based systems
  • Demonstrate WRI CMRS end-to-end system functionality via one or more CMRS Partner systems
  • Demonstrate carrier, enforcement, and compliance decision making using associated WRI GUI(s) populated with the CMRS-generated SDM/Inspection Record
  • Demonstrate WRI system instantaneous loading equal to a nationally deployed system
  • Feed revisions of the already existing WRI requirements, Concept of Operation, and Architecture documentation
  • Inform FMCSA's "go/no-go" decision for WRI national deployment

For more about this project, please visit the WRI-FOT website for the most current information.

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Brake Defect and Causation Study


Performance-Based Brake Testers (PBBTs) are devices that can be used to evaluate the current braking capability of a vehicle through the measurement of the brake force developed as a function of weight as the vehicle engages in a braking event while on the PBBT machine.  PBBT machines have been in operation since the 1930s.  On April 7, 2007, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) approved an amendment to the North American Standard (NAS) Out-of-Service (OOS) Criteria to allow a total vehicle score of less than 43.5 brake efficiency (BE) (total brake force as a percentage of gross vehicle or combination weight) to be grounds to remove that commercial motor vehicle (CMV) from service.  Since April 7, 2007, enforcement agencies, including the Tennessee Highway Patrol, have used the PBBT machine to place CMVs OOS. 

While many causes of vehicle test failures (failure to achieve 43.5 BE or greater overall PBBT score) are known (i.e. brakes out of adjustment, inadequate supply air, insufficient lining thickness), statistically significant data does not exist relative to the causation of PBBT machine OOS conditions or non-OOS vehicle brake defects.  Furthermore, there is little information available that documents specific corrective actions or validation of true abatement of the initial causation. 

This study intends to track and document a defective vehicle from the initial PBBT machine test failure (including the non-OOS “failure” of a wheel end) through the repair process and then on to a validation of repair.  The process will be repeated until the PBBT failure correction is validated.

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Infrared-Based Screening System

infrared imageAn infrared-based screening system (IBSS) is a tool designed to assist inspectors in determining which commercial motor vehicles (CMV) passing through an inspection facility may require further inspection.  This is accomplished by measuring thermal data from the wheel components.  As a CMV travels through the system, infrared cameras mounted on the roadside measure temperatures of the brakes, tires, and wheel bearings on both wheel ends of the vehicle.  This thermal data is analyzed internally before being presented on a user-friendly interface to enforcement personnel inside the inspection station.  Vehicles that are suspected to have a defect are automatically alerted to the enforcement staff.

The goal of the project is to develop a performance specification document for use as a guideline by jurisdictions desiring to purchase an IBSS.  The IBSS would be purchased through grant funds or directly with State operating funds. Its use would be focused on screening CMVs for potential brake, wheel bearing, and tire pressure defects.  Vehicles identified by the system would be given a high priority for selection for a subsequent North American Standard Level 2 or 3 safety inspection and/or a performance-based brake tester inspection.  The IBSS is expected to be used in existing CMV inspection facilities.

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Overweight Vehicle Defect Study


In order to preserve infrastructure and keep commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) moving efficiently, states must comply with federal size and weight standards which are certified by the Federal Highway Administration.  In the state of Tennessee, interstate vehicles are allowed to weigh up to 80,000 lb. gross, with single axles supporting a maximum of 20,000 lb., tandem axles supporting 34,000 lb., and tri-axles supporting up to 54,000 lb. without a permit.  Permitted loads are allowed well over 100,000 lb. gross vehicle weight based on the number of axles and permit type, with up to 40,000 lb. and 60,000 lb. on tandem and tri-axle configurations respectively.

Typically, CMVs that enter the inspection station and are overweight on one or more axles, are above their allowed gross vehicle weight, or are permitted and do not receive a North American Standard (NAS) Level I (full vehicle and driver) or Level II (driver and vehicle walk-around) safety inspection.  This is due, in part, to the fact that in many cases overweight vehicles are also oversized and/or on specialized trailers that are not practically accessible for inspection; and many states combine the overweight assessment with an NAS Level III (driver only inspection). Because of these issues very little is known about the safety of the CMV operating at a weight above the legal limit.

The main focus of this effort is to provide FMCSA with current information about the number and type of oversized and overweight vehicles and the number and type of vehicle defects found as a result of a Level-1 vehicle and driver inspection.

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